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I was away last week at a confirmation camp and purposefully did not take my computer.  It was a time to be away from the routines of life.  But even there, you can’t avoid all news.  News of tragedy finds its way to you.  I’ve had a week to think about and to hear reactions of others regarding the news of the attack on the nightclub at Orlando.

There’s a great deal of sadness.  I’m one of those people who is sad because of what happened.  The slaughter of so many people is senseless.  I’m sad for the victims.  I’m sad for the families and friends of the victims.  I’m sad for the people who will do the funerals.  I’m sad for the community.  I’m sad for the loss of humanity in general.  I’m sad that fear has just advanced.

There’s fear.  I refuse to be a person who lives in fear.  But I can understand why there would be fear.  Fear is the weapon of choice of those who would commit violence.  Fear is the weapon of choice for those who decide to use tragedy to further their own ambitions and political policies and agendas.

There’s confusion.  Because of the fear, people are confused.  They aren’t sure of what to do.  Should they even go where there will be a large gathering of people anymore?  Will they be next?

There’s statements – lots of statements.  Every politician and leader out there has a statement.  Some of them are rhetoric, or worse.  One presidential candidate made the events all about himself.  That’s shameless and narcissistic.  That combination is dangerous.

Our culture gives these types of statements attention and credibility – which is really unfortunate (although that’s not a strong enough word).

There have been hateful statements by so called “Christian” pastors, politicians and churches.  These people and churches ought to be ashamed of their statements, but apparently shame is beyond them.  They believe in the worst form of idolatry – they believe they are God.  They believe they get to decide who gets to live and who is worthy of death.

But there have been plenty of statements that service a good purpose – to express sorrow, to offer peace in the midst of fear, to envision a way forward.

There have been plenty of actions that service a good purpose.  My own denomination, the ELCA, has had three pastor chaplains at the local hospitals serving those who need it.  The ELCA funds a program where therapy dogs go to be with victims and those traumatized by such events.  Pastors in the ELCA have spoken out in pulpits about the violence that targeted the LGBTQ+ community.

I point this out because the media won’t.  They are too busy covering the extreme rhetoric.  It’s time we put such rhetoric in it’s place.  Hear it, then dismiss it and move on.  Stop giving it attention and credibility. It’s time to start paying attention to statements and actions that build up people and community.  It’s time we act like Christians as Christ calls us to – to be peacemakers, to care for the hospitalized and those suffering.

It’s time we acknowledge that we live in a culture of violence that goes far beyond just having a gun problem. We have a spiritual violence problem.  It’s time we acknowledge that this can’t be changes through a few quick fixes or by throwing money at the problem, or by ignoring it, or by just changing a law here or there.  No, this requires a great deal more.  Churches have a unique opportunity to be a starting place.  To be a place that starts living out the call to be peacemakers.  That is one place a change in our culture can start.

What it complaining, we started living as Christ calls us to live.  We are called to have a vision and live it out.  To believe in the kingdom of God and through believing we will see it come about.  It’s time to get serious about this whole faith thing.  It’s time.